Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Zucchini and Summer Squash Spaghetti

The concept of cutting zucchini into pasta-like ribbons and saucing them like spaghetti is popping up all over the place. On Iron Chef America Battle Zucchini, Bobby Flay made a fantastic looking version. There was also a raw food recipe in Food and Wine in June, and I’ve had such a dish a few times at the raw bar at Whole Foods. I felt the need to create my own version, and this is a perfect time of year for it.

At the farmers’ market on Saturday, we found lovely zucchini, yellow summer squashes, sweet pepperoncini and cherry peppers, and lots of other things too. As I gathered the fresh peppers at the market, I began imagining how to incorporate them into this dish. I was mostly inspired by the raw preparations I’ve read about or eaten, but I veered a little off the raw path in the end. My take on the dish was:

2 medium summer squashes
1 small zucchini
note: the size varies quite a lot, but for the amount of sauce here, a total of five cups or so of squash pasta works well

2 medium fresh tomatoes, chopped
1/3 c sun-dried tomatoes from jar packed with olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 c fresh basil leaves
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1/2 t Aleppo pepper
juice of half of a lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

3 T kalamata olives, pitted and halved
3 fresh cherry peppers, thinly sliced
2 fresh pepperoncini, thinly sliced
Grated parmigiana reggiano to taste

Slice squashes and zucchini into thin strips lengthwise, and then cut each strip into strands. I used a grater to slice the strips and then hand cut the strands. It takes a little time and patience. Place cut strands in a medium bowl and set aside.

(A spiral slicer would make the task much easier, and the ribbons would be perfectly consistent. I’m now coveting one and am trying to come up with ways to justify a purchase. I would make this every day if I had a handy tool to cut the ribbons.)

In a blender pitcher, place fresh tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, basil, olive oil, Aleppo pepper, lemon juice, salt and black pepper. Puree until smooth. Pour over squash strands and toss to combine. Serve garnished with olives, cherry peppers, pepperoncinis and parmigiana as four small first course servings or two large main course plates.
This summery dish, requiring no stove use at all, packs a burst of flavors. The fresh and sun-dried tomatoes combine to form a bright tasting sauce, the olives add depth of flavor, and the peppers bring a fresh, crunchy contrast. You won’t miss the semolina pasta for a minute.


  1. This sounds surprisingly good. And of course the photo is delicious!

    I suppose it's the peperoncinis that keep it from being technically "raw."

    Do olives and dried tomatoes count as raw since they're not cooked? Or does "raw" really mean "in the natural state"?

  2. Thanks! The pepperoncinis were raw in this case since they were fresh and not pickled. The olives and the parmigiana made the dish not completely raw. I believe sun-dried tomatoes are considered raw if they really are dried by the sun.

  3. Olives are cured in a brine and cheese is cultured and "rennet-ed". So they would be considered processed and not raw? I'm not trying to be tedious, I'm just detail oriented. :-P

  4. I'm still learning about raw food, so I don't know all the specifics off the top of my head. But, to be considered raw, food must never go beyond a certain temperature. I've read cured olives are not considered raw, so the brining must involve higher temp's at some point. Also, cheese making involves high heat to pasturize the milk. --Some day I'll learn more.

  5. Ah, that makes sense. I was forgeting about pasturizing the milk. Thanks for the info, Lisa!


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